on November 1, 2011
For those of us who have a blue and white book shelf, and are intrigued with the storied history of both Maple Leaf Gardens and the Toronto Maple Leafs, I could not recommend Kelly McParland's work more highly. While the tales have been told by many different voices, no one has had clearer insight, or more direct access to the source of knowledge, since Scott Young worked directly with Conn Smythe. This book takes the tale a step beyond the sport's pages and peoples it with real characters, wonderfully fleshed out, weaving history, politics and sports together. Pitting them against the backdrop of a nation coming of age and searching for an identity, we can feel the cold, damp air of all those early rinks and smell the fresh paint piled layer upon layer in the Gardens. Reliving historic games and legendary moments is treated with a deft hand by this author. The book carries the ring of truth and if you thought you knew all there was to know about Conn Smythe, there is still much to ponder about his complex and sometimes contradictory character. Future generations will gain a greater understanding of Toronto during the early years where we lived in divided societies, fearful and distrustful of one another. Yet through all the pain and blood, we grew to become a much more tolerant society, with our love for our national game, still intact. If you have a Leaf fan on your Christmas list, I would plan on putting this book on your list. If you are the reader, plan on giving yourself a weekend to do nothing else; unless, like me, you are happy to burn the midnight oil, too enthralled to close the covers and waste time sleeping.